By Charlie Johnston
A Priest contacted me last week to let me know that the prior week a dear family member was dying. Doctors were baffled about why his organs were shutting down and did not have any ideas about how to stop it. The Priest told me that he prayed and contemplated the Brazen Serpent Prayer. The next day his loved one stabilized. A week ago, the man who was dying last week got up to eat a hearty breakfast. Thanks be to God, a partial shipment of the first batch of Brazen Serpent prayer cards arrived Friday. I will be handing them out at my talks going forward, we will be shipping a supply out to each CORAC Regional Coordinator and Team Leader, and they should be available on the Full of Grace Website in about a week. This is a collaborative project with Full of Grace. We at CORAC bought half the initial order at cost which we will distribute gratis while Full of Grace will keep a supply on hand for sale. If you want to get one immediately, you will be able to order from Full of Grace in about a week – or you can come to one of my talks or meet with your Regional Coordinator.
Just over a week ago I had an interaction with one of our regular commenters, Lake, who observed,
“I’ll be honest, I think we are an economic crash away from becoming a 3rd world country in many ways. In other ways we are already there, as the protesting at Supreme Court homes demonstrates. In a lot of 3rd world countries government officials have to live in secure compounds to protect them from violent mobs and assassination. I’ve been to quite a few 3rd world countries, and see how things there work. I also can’t help but notice we are on that road. For example:
Highly corrupt government at all levels
Power through patronage
Cities where the wealthy require private security and live in houses surrounded by razor wire, walls and electric fencing (even in nice areas)
Government officials live in highly secure compounds to protect them from violent mobs
Control of communications
Minimal trust in contracts or other written law
Arbitrary enforcement of law
Random shortages and supply breakdowns
Lynch mobs replacing official justice
Banks and jewelry stores protected by private security armed with assault rifles
Uzi-carrying security patrolling wealthy areas
These are all daily life for some places. Am I wrong in thinking this is our current trajectory?”
My response was.
“Lordy Lake, I wish you were wrong on the trajectory, but you are right on target. It’s almost like we are following a bloody script – a very old script.
I think most involved with us see it now, but I had a different idea than most thought when I founded CORAC. Organizing to oppose the dysfunction was never my main priority – though I did not object if that was the main priority of others. In the last month I have had two people who previously thought I was warning of collapse as a means of motivating people to work harder to stop the dysfunction say to me in astonishment, “Everything really is going to collapse, isn’t it?” I took my cue on this on how the Lord handled speaking of His upcoming crucifixion with His disciples – with a VERY light touch. He was candid with them but knew that its necessity was outside the scope of what they could process – so He did not push them as long as they lived fidelity to the work before them. From the start, my priority was on building the basic infrastructure so we could begin to rebuild anew and effectively resist the rise of rival warlords controlling things, a la Mad Max.
What is has become so thoroughly corrupted it must perish before what is new and honorable can truly rise. It is doing a perfectly fine job of destroying itself so it most assuredly does not need my help. That is also why I have never emphasized some huge recruitment drive. As things continue their collapse, people will gravitate to what we are doing because it offers the best means out there of collaborating with others to build something true. While some worry about how to up recruitment, my worry has been more on how to handle the flood of new members coming in when we reach critical mass and people know that the old is too rotten to be salvaged. I have been candid about it, but I have never pushed it, knowing that people have to see with their own eyes – and that it is a comfort to kid themselves that what is is still salvageable. Over the decades I was allowed false hope at times because the Lord knew I was not ready to process the full reality without despairing, so I have tried to emulate His method. But that which is right now is all going away. Better that we begin to rebuild before it is entirely gone without being overly distracted by the spectacle of its gaudy, ongoing collapse. You have assessed the situation well.
Someday people will understand that “Acknowledge God, Take the Next Right Step, and Be a Sign of Hope to Those Around You,” was not designed as a soothing slogan, but as the essential instruction manual for these times – a manual that is easily memorized and carries all the tools we need for the renewal.”
Up until about five years ago or so, only a few serious people understood how serious our cultural peril was. They busied themselves debating internally whether there really was a storm coming or whether this was just a “phase” we were all going through. In the last year and a half the world has accelerated with such astonishing speed into a rank caricature of a healthy culture that all serious people understand that a terrible clash is at hand – and that we go into it with all the institutions and systems we have relied on broken or seriously compromised. Yes, people often tell me that they have friends who can’t see it, distraught that so many think this is merely a transitory state. The difference between this and previous historical regional collapses is not how few see and understand what is happening, but how many do. The invincibly ignorant we will always have with us (though they are remarkably smug about the destruction they are wreaking. Truth is, though, that that is also a common feature of societies on the cusp of catastrophic collapse.)
As serious people have recognized that an “irrepressible conflict” is in our future (to borrow the phrase used by William Seward, who would be Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, to describe the coming Civil War several years before it commenced), they have been quietly making preparation for hard times. Until now, most of those preparations have been geared towards preserving their own status quo even as the culture crumbles around them – to maintain the fruits of a dying system for themselves even as that system enters its terminal phase. That won’t work. In fact, it only delays renewal.
The baby formula crisis is a useful illustration. On the one hand, it illustrates (in a way that is obvious to everyone) how utterly and even comically incompetent our governing class is become. The FDA shut down the primary manufacturer of baby formula on tenuous grounds that turned out not to be true at all. It did NOT back its error up by finding a new source to cover the shortfall, which it could have easily done by approving imports of European formula – which has no safety issues by American standards but is not labelled as the FDA insists. So the “experts” created an easily avoidable shortage, didn’t notice it might be a problem until it was already here, then panicked and said they had been working on it since February – obviously a lie because it could easily have been handled seamlessly so that the average person never would have even noticed there was a problem. Instead, their response was to lie about it and try to blame the previous administration. Even more mendaciously, the same governing class that created the problem for ordinary Americans made sure to provide ample baby formula for the flood of illegal aliens they have invited in. This is absurd incompetence on stilts. And intentional malice.
So you can’t much get baby formula unless you are an illegal alien. But you can. When I was a little boy, my Mom often let me mix the baby formula for my next two brothers. It was a can of evaporated milk, a can and a half of water, and a dollop of Karo Syrup or honey. It is certainly an inconvenience, but it is not a crisis that we can’t get what no parent could get just 65 years ago. And there is the rub.
People keep thinking that preparing for hard times means finding ways to maintain for themselves the good things the current system offers. That is not how a collapse works. When a building collapses everything goes. It is much the same here. The challenge is how to build anew from the rubble and to be able to work effectively from raw materials.
Over the weekend we had to cancel a proposed talk because of a freak snowstorm (and in Colorado a freak snowstorm in May can bring, as this one did in some areas, over two feet of snow). We ended up having a small talk and conversation in the upstairs living room. We were planning to offer it on ZOOM, but both the power and internet was out for much of the weekend in the area where I live. Thankfully, I only had a brief power outage, but the internet was out for over half the weekend – including when we had our little talk. No problem. We had a great visit and will schedule two more formal meetings in the fall. As society continues to break down, you need to be nimble and not get bent out of shape when plans don’t go quite as you hoped. It will be happening more and more frequently. Instead of getting worked up that you can’t get formula for your baby or meet as you planned, develop the attitude that come what may, my baby is going to eat and we are going to get together with who we can. Let’s face it: if the governing class were trying to destroy America what would they do differently than they are already doing?
This is why I so emphasize the instructions, “Acknowledge God, Take the Next Right Step, and Be a Sign of Hope to Those Around You.” We can’t determine precisely which rock will be the first to start the disastrous cascade of a rockslide. Even if we could it would not matter. Rockslides do not happen because one critical rock holding up everything else tumbles; they happen because the conditions are right for a rockslide and any of a multitude of rocks could be the start of the cascade. The conditions are right. The economy is mutilated beyond recognition. The justice system is mutilated beyond recognition. Even in the most robust of our traditional mediating institutions, only a small faction are focused on thinking about, “whatsoever is honorable, whatsoever is just, whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely and whatsoever is gracious.” (Philippians 4:8) Most are just thinking of what transient advantage they can gain or how they can stick it to their internal opponents. This is the sound of the gears grinding down. It is only a matter of time before the whole thing seizes up and stops working entirely.
But all is not lost. To the contrary, we are on the cusp of God’s great renewal, which is entirely different from the elite governing class’s great reset. When Jesus sent His disciples out on mission (Matthew 10) He stripped them of everything they normally relied on for a journey – no money, no bag, no clothes beyond what they had on their backs, no staff. And yet this motley crew, by their trust in His word, were rebuilt in mind, body and spirit and became, through many trials, more powerful than the pagan Roman Empire.
When I went on my pilgrimage, walking across 3,200 miles of America and sleeping in the woods over a year and a half, I was stripped of most of the things I had taken for granted all my life. I had to learn to live anew – without most of the things that I had previously considered vital. I did it because I believed – and still believe – that God sent me in preparation for the beginnings of the storm and my public work to give people heart to get through it. Though that is what I believed, that is not to say that I was persuaded at the time that it was a good plan. Many of my friends thought I would not actually do it – and that if I did I would get seriously injured or killed out there. Those in my extended family who knew me well didn’t doubt I would do it (I am known for my stubborn determination among those who know me best, however well-masked it is by my cheery demeanor), but they, too, thought it would end in serious injury or death. As good a public face as I put on, I privately thought they all had a pretty good point. But I was convinced this was divinely appointed, so I summoned the ferocious act of the will required to be both obedient and pretend that I thought this was a great idea, too. I was about a month and a half in when the pretense was dropped and I came to believe that this really was a great idea. I still didn’t quite understand it, but boy was I joyful. Spend a lifetime in politics and media and you can get tainted by a bit of cynicism, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.
I found the great beating heart of people across the land, hearts that desperately wanted to reach out to each other but dared not in this cynical age. I found people, great and small, overjoyed that I was not walking for any cause or any group, but just as an act of submission in prayer for the good – and in joyful fellowship with those I met along my way. It was staggering. I started off in fear for myself amid all the challenges this alien journey presented. But the joy of almost everyone I met transformed that. I did not quite understand why they were so excited and enthused over an old fella walking, but I could see it had sparked profound joy and hope in my new-found friends. It was somewhere in Mississippi that the transformation turned: without thinking much about it, I had quit praying for my safety for myself and started praying that God would let me complete my journey no matter what injuries might come so that all those who had found new hope in what I was doing would not lose that hope. Turns out that there is a voracious hunger in people for something that is good just because it is good. In rural areas I would stop in a little café and find that the whole town had been watching and talking about me for two or three days, wondering what I was doing – and so the whole café would be talking and enthused to actually meet and talk with me. It was so common that eventually I knew to ask for a doggy bag in advance because I wouldn’t have much time to eat while I was actually in the restaurant.
Before I left on the journey, everyone had advice for me on how to handle things and endure. While there were some good nuggets, a good 80 percent was just the meanderings of people who had occasionally imagined, but never actually participated in such a unique break with everything they relied on. Quite frankly, my thoughts before I set out were much the same: much of what I thought would be important was irrelevant and a whole host of things I never thought of became vital. I learned as I went along. Thank God I was never vested in trying to prove that my then ignorant imagination was right all along. The very first day I dumped almost half of the things I had thought were vital because it was just too much weight to carry. I had to hone down dramatically my definition of what was actually vital.
In the end, I came to think the pilgrimage was precisely the thing I needed. (I sometimes feel sorry for those folks who are convinced that God always agrees with their judgment. They never get the joy of discovering that the way God commands – that they are dubious about – is so much better and more fruitful than their own meanderings). I saw the great heart of people across this land. Yes, it is a cynical age. But scratch the surface of all those cynics and you will find disillusioned idealists looking desperately for a reason to believe, to find real meaning. Ah, what joy to seek to be, under obedience to God, one of those reasons that can spark new belief. Though cheery, I began it with many fears, yet I ended it almost fearless. There were four occasions I can cite where I was in serious danger of death. Though it sounds unreal, there were more episodes than this, but my trust in God was forged strong enough that I didn’t take some of them seriously and have to work to remember them at all. I came away with a sort of divine fatalism: if we are most useful here among His people, God will leave us here however things seem. If we are most useful in heaven or purgatory, God will take us however things seem. Blessed be the name of the Lord – and the next right step that leads to Him.
Things are scary now because we are governed by the equivalent of Charlie Manson’s “Family.” You remember them? Mostly very young women and men, all who were bloodthirsty lunatics who thought they were “enlightened,” but only brought gruesome death and destruction to their targets. They were remarkably enthusiastic about their brutal murders and actually professed to believe they were doing their victims a favor. Doesn’t that sound just like a Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer press conference? They are butchering the values and principles that made America great. It is passing away before our eyes – and the butchers think they are doing us a favor.
God does not leave us bereft. He calls us to a great spiritual pilgrimage to join Him in forging the world anew. We must leave the old behind, walk in places we never thought we could, and trust God to open a new door for us as the dying old one collapses behind us. I am being far more literal than most people think when I say that the new currency, the coin of the realm, will be the people you care for and who care for you. Expand your territory of loved ones.
Years ago, I wrote a line in a piece that I occasionally see someone quote. I think it is one of the best lines I have ever written and is completely appropriate to what our calling now is:
“As you look at your life you cannot measure it by the books published, the soup kitchens worked, the refuges built – though if you do those things they are good. Rather, you must judge it from the perspective of the hope you inspired, the peace you spread, the joy you engendered, the love you kindled – for these are the sure marks of the Kingdom of God. All else is detail.”
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Tell friends at Church now in case you can’t then. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.
Find me on Gab at Charliej373 or at the CORAC group.
Find me on Twitter at @Charlie62394802
The Corps of Renewal and Charity (CORAC)
18208 Preston Rd., Ste. D9-552
Dallas, Texas 75252